What will you do when you are travelling to Iran? Is it safe? Two women on their own, you are crazy! These are just some of the reactions I get when I told them I booked a ticket to Iran. Together with a female friend I will travel to Iran for about two weeks. Indeed, two women travelling independently to Iran. Reactions around me aren’t exactly cheerful, to say the least. The media depicts angry Iranian men shouting “death to America”. Large protests on the street, flags being burned and a fundamentalist government to top it all off. All women are dressed in black and have to wear a veil on the street and are being suppressed. They hang people in Iran, ISIS is there, those ayatollahs with their weird ideas. I can go on and on with these stereotypes. You could blame it on the naivety of the people and their worldview, but I blame the media. These aren’t the things I think about while travelling to Iran. This is not how I see Iran.
How do I look at Iran and why I am travelling to Iran?
The old Persia
Iran has one of the oldest civilizations in the entire world. There are excavations dating back more than 2500 years. It’s the great country of the former Shahs. The country of thousand-and-one-night fairytales and Aladdin and Jasmine. I read books about the old Persia and it fascinates me. Iran brings the times of the mighty Persian empire back to live. There are art treasures from way before the time of the Islamic revolution and there is a huge amount of historical beauty to be found.
Iran can rightfully be called one of the cradles of human civilization. The Islamic population has built numerous beautiful religious buildings in Iran. These buildings are known for their colors and mosaics in the tiling. I am convinced that one of the most beautiful monuments of the Islamic world can be found in Iran. Iran is truly a fascinating destination for anyone who is interested in history and culture.
Experience the culture
My aim is to experience as many cultures as possible and that is the reason I am travelling. Of course, I don’t want to break the rules of the country, but I think it’s impossible to know all the rules. To know them all, you have to be Iranian yourself. From what I read on the internet and in books the system of social manners seems confusing and unclear to me. There is a big difference in how people behave publicly and privately. It seems like nothing is allowed at all, yet everything is possible.
Iran has a morality police, which seems omnipresent on the street with their authoritative eyes. They are especially strict when it comes to women. The only thing you are allowed to show as a woman, is your face. And yes, I view the veil as some kind of suppression, which I don’t support at all. Personally I think Iranian women are very beautiful! And I can’t understand why you will get arrested for wearing the wrong color veil or if the wind blows your jacket to far up. But yet I will respect the rules of the country and adjust my clothing accordingly. I think I will have to adapt as I am a guest in this country.
I want to experience for myself how live is in Iran and won’t be guided by the media’s image of it. Iran makes the news on a weekly basis and it’s a country many people worry about. Yet, we know so little about the country, that’s why I am travelling to Iran!
In my opinion, a large part of the image we have about Iran is based on biases. The downside to these (mostly negative) media attention is that it affects how people look towards Iran and its population. Iran also plays a part in this, as I often have the feeling there is some kind of information war going on. Images from Iran showcase Iran’s viewpoint that America is the devil and the sole root of all evil. But I want to see past that. I want to see Iran with my own eyes and experience it myself in order to form my own opinion on the matter. After two weeks it is hard to form a grounded judgement, but visiting the country helps in forming a broader opinion of the country.
Everywhere on the internet (on various blogs/ sites) I read that the people are tremendously hospitable towards tourists. You could say this is quite logical, as they need tourism and the money it brings in (the dollars and euros), in regards to the sanctions of the last couple of years. But as a tourist, I think you will see through this (in part). I believe you will feel it when people only talk to you because you want the money.
Locals want to talk to you, because they are interested in you and curious about what you have to say. That is my opinion. At the same time I am also very curious towards the Iranian people! I can’t wait to experience this for myself in a cozy tea hose of busy bazaar! It might seem like some fairytale fantasy I have, but I really believe it. Added benefit is that most young Iranians speak English, which makes it very practical as well as fun and interesting.
Iran is quite an unknown destination and this fact makes me even more curious. Curiosity is a trait people naturally have. Personally I don’t know anyone who has ever been to Iran and I’ve only read about it in books and on the internet. That makes Iran a mysterious country to me!
Iran is a safe and stable country in the region, especially if you look to the countries surrounding Iran. There is an rapprochement towards the west going on, under the current administration. International relations are more and more being normalized and international sanctions are being reduced. A true turnaround is happening!
Iran was a touristic destination in the seventies and many tourists visited the country back then, which I expect will happen again. If the current developments keep going as they are, of course. That’s why I want to go now and not in a few years’ time. I think it will be great walking around on all those magnificent squares and palaces, without being accompanies by big groups of tourists often found in other countries.
This is how I look at travelling to Iran! I am looking forward to what you think about travelling to Iran!
Read more about Iran
- What do you wear in Iran?
- How to arrange a trip to Iran?
- How do you arrange a visa for Iran?
- You know you are in Iran when…
- 30 interesting facts about Iran
- Tips for women who travel to Iran
Read more about what you can do in Iran
- 7 must do’s in Esfahan
- 13 things you have to do in Shiraz
- The 6 best things to do in Kashan
- Everything you need to know for a visit to Qom
- Nasir Al Molk mosque in Shiraz
- Hafez’ Tomb in the city of Shiraz
- How it’s like to visit a mosque in Iran?
- Bagh-e Eram, the most beautiful Persian garden in Iran
- Persepolis, a must visit in Iran
- Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) square in Isfahan: the most beautiful square in the world